Backlash brewing over East Bay Beer Fest
Fans of ice cold beer, fried food and live music will have reason to celebrate on Saturday, June 15.
Meg Jones will not.
The Barrington resident and founder of the local group FAB (For Anything But ... alcohol, drugs or tobacco) says the first-ever East Bay Beer Fest at the Blount Clam Shack, which will feature beers from eight Rhode Island-based breweries, will celebrate a drug that has caused much pain and suffering in this part of the state and beyond.
“They’re offering this in Warren, where Kayleigh Raposa died,” Ms. Jones said, referring to the teenager who was killed in a drunk-driving accident in 2007. Kayleigh’s friend, Julie Alfano, served time at the state training school for driving under the influence of alcohol-death resulting, as well as other charges.
“It’s a huge problem,” Ms. Jones added.
In Barrington, alcohol played a role in the 2007 boating death of Patrick Murphy. The local teenager was knee-boarding in the Barrington River when his classmate, Ryan Greenberg, struck him with the power boat, killing him. Police reported that Mr. Greenberg had been drinking alcohol prior to the incident.
“These tragedies bring it (alcohol-related problems) to the forefront.”
Ms. Jones said she’s also troubled with fact that Tap-In, a non-profit agency that helps people in East Providence, Barrington, Warren and Bristol, will be benefiting from the Beer Fest. (Tap-In and the Hopkins Center for Civil Rights will receive proceeds from the first-ever Beer Fest.) She said some of the people who rely upon the assistance offered by Tap-In are struggling because of dependency issues.
Officials with Tap-In did not wish to comment, but Giovanni Cicione, owner of Brickyard Wine and Spirits which is supporting the first-ever East Bay Beer Fest, said he felt the fund-raiser was a good idea and would help an organization that serves a great need.
Mr. Cicione said that when he first obtained a license to open a liquor store in Barrington — Brickyard was the first liquor store to open in town — he committed to helping local charities.
“I think Tap-In’s a really good organization,” he said.
Mr. Cicione, the former chairman for the state Republican Party, also responded to Ms. Jones’ accusation that Brickyard may have been violating the law by sponsoring a beer or wine tasting off-site. Mr. Cicione said officials from the Hopkins Center for Civil Rights obtained the license for the event; the Warren Town Council issued the license and later approved a permit for live music.
“This is separate. We’re just supporting the event,” he said, quickly adding that he’s heard a lot of positive feedback. “I think we might try to do this every year. I think we may try to help Tap-In next year.”
Mr. Cicione said East Bay Beer Fest organizers are taking every precaution to make sure the event follows the rules. He said all the servers and staff will be TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS, which educates people on the responsible consumption of alcohol) trained.
The event runs from noon until 4 p.m. on June 15.
Sending a message
Ms. Jones said it’s important for people to consider the message they’re sending when it comes to alcohol, and that by supporting an event like the Beer Fest they may be pushing alcohol consumption closer to greater acceptance.
She said she believes there are fewer local teenagers drinking these days and more local parents who aware that their behaviors will influence their children’s actions.
But more needs to be done, she added.
She said FAB is entering its sixth year, and that her goal is to have it become a constant factor in peoples’ thinking. She said the group receives no funding and is run entirely by volunteers. Some help out at events like the FAB hat contest at the Memorial Day parade in Barrington, and others run the midnight basketball program at the Bayside YMCA.
“It’s a lifestyle choice,” Ms. Jones said. “You’re setting an example for your child. We know what we should be doing.”
Beer Fest details
• What: First-ever East Bay Beer Fest
• When: Saturday, June 15, from noon to 4 p.m.
• Where: Blount Clam Shack, Water Street in Warren
• Tickets: $20 per ticket (21 and older)
• Brewers scheduled to attend: Trinity Brewhouse, Foolproof Brewing, Revival Brewing, Narragansett Brewing, Grey Sail Brewing, Ravenous Brewing, The Bucket Brewery, Newport Storm Brewery